The High Court of Justice has given the government two months to reconsider its opposition to allowing same-sex couples to adopt in the country.
The decision Tuesday came two days after the state told the court in response to a petition that the government is opposed to allowing same-sex couples to adopt.
The state’s submission, filed jointly by the Welfare Ministry and the Justice Ministry, said they opposed allowing same-sex couples to adopt because it would place an “additional burden” on the child, a position that sparked outrage from the LGBT community and many senior politicians.
The state’s decision not to change its stance on same-sex couples “takes into account the reality of Israeli society and the difficulty it may entail with regard to the child being adopted,” the government said Sunday in its response, citing Child Welfare Services.
Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz, having declared Monday that the state’s response was unfortunately worded, asked the court Tuesday for an extension to re-examine the issue, saying he wanted to seek more professional opinions.
Amir Ohana, the first openly gay Likud lawmaker and a gay rights activist, said Tuesday that he would not vote with the government coalition until the recommendation opposed to same-sex couples adopting is changed.
Same-sex couples can be approved for adoption under Israeli law, but in practice only three such couples have adopted children in the past nine years. Many same-sex couples adopt babies from other countries.
Amid a burgeoning furor Monday, Katz attempted to distance himself from the initial response. The statement submitted to the High Court on Sunday had been “poorly worded and should not have been stated as such,” his ministry said on his behalf Monday. “The minister has no intention of preventing or denying anyone the ability to adopt from one group or another,” his spokesman claimed.
Welfare Ministry spokesperson Sharona Mann said it is recommending a “complete overhaul of the outdated law” on adoptions. “We want a full reform in the law — which is not connected to LGBT couples or any other group of couples,” she said. “It’s not connected to same-sex parents — it’s much bigger than that. We don’t want any couple in Israel to wait seven years to adopt…. Only after the reform is implemented should lawmakers be asked to change the law in favor of additional groups,” she added.
The court petition regarding adoption by same-sex and common-law couples was filed by the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, with the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement, against the Welfare Ministry and the attorney general.
Since 2008, when single-sex couples and couples who have common-law marriages became legally able to adopt within Israel, 550 such couples have submitted petitions to adopt, Haaretz reported. While only three same-sex couples were successful, more than 1,000 straight couples have adopted in the same period.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.